Sports / The Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com
Rams place second with seven district champions
By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
BERRYVILLE -- The Strasburg Rams advanced seven wrestlers to the finals, and all seven won championship medals in Saturday's Bull Run District Tournament at Clarke County.
While championships eluded Central, the Falcons had two second place and two third place medal winners.
With the top six finishers in each weight class qualifying for regionals, Central advanced competitors in 13 of the 14 weight-classes to next week's Region B tournament, missing out only at 152.
The Rams added a third place and sixth place finish, to bring their regional representation to nine.
In the team scoring, Strasburg took second place with 180.5 points, behind Manassas Park's 211, while Central's 162.5 put them in third place.
Sophomore Hunter Dean led off Strasburg's magnificent seven with a 1:07 pin of Patrick Gehman, of William Monroe, to take the 106-pound championship.
It was Dean's second pin of the day, after a first-round bye, and puts him in superb position to return to the state meet, where has was the 2012 106-class runner-up.
"Coach [Trey Kirkland] told me go out and get as many pins as I could for team points," Dean said. "So, I was going for pins the whole time, as quick as I could, going on and off [the mats].
"I didn't really like the first-round bye. I'd rather wrestle for as many matches as I can, because it gets more team points. I was supposed to have a match, but we got a scratch."
Rams sophomore Nic Campbell had a literal narrow escape, winning the 120-pound championship in his closest bout of the year, 1-0, over Manassas Park's Gilbert Rodgriquez.
Campbell, about four inches taller than the relatively stocky Rodgriquez, earned the point with an escape early in the second period and made the precious point hold up, bringing his season record to 27-0. Campbell won the 113-class state championship.
"That was my toughest match of the year," Campbell said. "It was just really tough for me to finish my shots. I got in about six or seven [shots], but he would just lizard. It was hard to get under him.
"Our seven championships were amazing. We went hard at practice all week, staying after, working on moves. It showed out here."
On Tuesday, Central edged Strasburg, 39-37 in the Shenandoah County meet.
On Saturday, the only Strasburg vs. Central championship bout was in the 145-pound final, where the Rams' Todd Dean faced off against the Falcons' Skylar Wolf for only the second time in their four-year varsity careers.
Todd Dean, who moved up to 152 and lost to Thomas Peacemaker in the county meet, won his first encounter with Wolf by a 10-4 decision in the Strasburg Duals on Jan. 12.
The district engagement was more closely fought, as Wolf gained a 5-2 lead on a near-pin late in the second period, then Todd Dean got a takedown to pull within 5-4.
Early in third period, Todd Dean (20-2) made an escape and got a takedown to go ahead 7-5, followed by a Wolf (30-6) escape and another takedown by Dean around the 1:00 mark, to make it 9-6 in Dean's favor.
As the clock ticked down on regulation time, the best Wolf could do was get another escape point, at 9.6 seconds, and Dean then maintained about 10 feet of separation the rest of the way to preserve his 9-7 victory.
"Obviously, it's disappointing to lose in the district finals, especially by two points," Wolf said. "It could have gone either way. As I said after my first time against him, I was looking to improve, and I did that.
"When it got down to about five seconds, there really wasn't anything I could do to make a difference. Hopefully, [in the regional], if we meet again, I can do even better."
Also ascending to the championship step on the awards podium for Strasburg were Lance Ford at 113, with an 8-5 decision over Manassas Park's Donte Baker, and Kent Cadle at 132, by a 5-0 decision against Manassas Park's Fabian Rodriquez.
Rounding out Strasburg's championship parade were Marco Gallagher at 138 by a 12-5 decision over Alex Biesecker (William Monroe), and Tyler Drummond at 152, as formidable opponent Dylan Hitt, of Rappahannock County, took an injury default after failing a concussion assessment with 28.2 seconds remaining in the second period, and Drummond holding a 5-2 lead.
The 182 weight class saw another face-off between county rivals as Strasburg's Willie Rutz, in only his fourth event of the season, repeated his success in Tuesday's county meet by taking third place with a 2:31 pin of Central's Jake Freiwald.
"The county meet was a good wake-up call for us," Kirkland said. "Obviously, we didn't have the outcome we wanted there, but everyone knew their mistakes and that they could wrestle better. We had a good [three days] of practice after that.
"Everyone worked hard and got mentally ready. We knew we had a tough task, fielding only 11 [wrestlers], that we weren't going to have enough points to take the team title. I'm happy with where we're sitting, getting second place with seven district champs."
Central's Brandon Phillips, at 220, faced a formidable opponent in Manassas Park's Corey Jenkins in the championship bout, and lost by a 3-0 decision, adding his second place medal to Wolf's for the Falcons.
Earning third place medals for Central were Jason Ruckman (138), and John Plunkett (170).
"The kids wrestled well, they wrestled hard," Falcons coach Roger Barbee said. "We're very pleased we got third. I think this is probably the best Central's every done in a Bull Run District tournament.
"Skylar [Wolf] and Brandon [Phillips] getting second is just great, so now we go to the regions next week."
Clarke County junior Ben Wallace won the 195-pound championship with his 100th career victory, and was chosen Bull Run District wrestler of the year.